Beijing Zoo accused of ‘cat expulsion’

By Liu Meng Source:Global Times Published: 2012-10-11 23:31:00

A media officer with the Beijing Zoo confirmed Thursday that shelters for stray cats at the zoo were demolished last Thursday, but said the zoo plans to build a "cat island" in their place.

A Web user who claimed to have witnessed the demolition said in an online forum Tuesday that the vice president of the zoo, Qian Jinchao, arranged the demolition as "the zoo faces the nation and the world, and it should not allow these shelters to destroy the zoo's environment."

According to the online post, all the stray cats' shelters, most set up deep in the zoo's shrubbery, were torn down last Thursday.

It also said that four volunteers who usually feed the cats at the zoo attempted to dissuade Qian on Tuesday.

However, Qian insisted on going ahead with the demolition, only agreeing to keep the cats' water bowls.

The post triggered a massive reaction among Web users, with some expressing concern for the cats as the colder weather sets in.

Ye Mingxia, media officer of the zoo, told the Global Times on Thursday that the zoo will build a "cat island" as a replacement habitat.

"It is out of the consideration of the potential health threat to other animals in the zoo, because stray cats can spread infectious diseases," she said, refusing to elaborate.

A representative who met Qian on Tuesday, who declined to be named, confirmed what the online post mentioned.

She also told the Global Times that construction of the "cat island," which the zoo claimed would be completed by June, has not yet started.

"Besides the water bowls, Qian only agreed to keep 10 shelters sent by the Beijing Small Animal Protection Association last year, but it is obviously not enough," she said.

A volunteer who has been feeding the cats at the zoo for eight years, who also requested anonymity, told the Global Times that it is the second time the zoo has expelled stray cats.

"There are about 120 stray cats at the zoo," she said.

"In March, more than 40 shelters were torn down. The remaining 77 were demolished last week."

The volunteer also said that the cats now face an uncertain future due to the fact they have nowhere to take shelter other than in trees or in corners of walls.

Li Shan, 24, a Beijing resident from Chaoyang district who adopted a stray cat, told the Global Times that it is the first time he had heard about a zoo expelling animals.

"I don't think a person who disregards animal's lives would take good care of other kinds of animals in the zoo," he said.

Posted in: Society, Metro Beijing

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